[texhax] Do any college courses exist in TeX?

Uwe Lueck uwe.lueck at web.de
Tue Jun 23 17:15:40 CEST 2015

2015-06-22 21:58 +02:00, John Michael Nahay wrote:
> I have never learned TeX, in spite of trying at
> least 20 times since 1990. 
> But, in spite of thousands of online tutorials &
> YouTube videos, we can never organize & memorize 
> the massive number of commands in markup languages 
> like TeX.

If you could not get friends with TeX while trying 
20 times in 25 years, I guess the reason is that 
you want to organize & memorize the massive number 
of TeX commands.  I think the latter is a very bad 
idea if you want to learn and use TeX.  As others 
have already suggested, you better just learn the 
few commands that you actually need (and -- very 
useful for mathematical papers and books -- how to 
create your own ones).

> So, in order for us to do it, we would need to take
> formal college courses in TeX and each of us devote
> several thousand hours learning it. 

Non sequitur, at least:  It is very easy to learn 
using TeX without a course.  More than 20 years ago, 
I just read a (then) "short introduction" to LaTeX, 
and then (after some days of installing a working 
system), after about (another) two days could typeset 
my first documents.  See the "begin" link at the 
bottom of the postings you receive for similar ways 
to learn LaTeX 20 years later.  What I have found 
nice recently are




Well, books are an additional useful or necessary 
step to get control over TeX, I bought The LaTeX 
Companion and didn't need another book on TeX so much
(apart from what I read in order to hack LaTeX).

For math papers and books, the AMS macros may be 
especially useful, so you might next read some of the 
PDF files in


I believe that at most one TeX user out of 10000 has 
ever attended something like a TeX course.  (It 
follows that such a TeX user is not an entire one.)

I even guess that a TeX course is not very useful 
because there is so little that the attendant's needs 
would have in common.  

I even tend to discourage you from reading books like 
Grätzer's on TeX that other posters have recommended. 
These posters took your request about "learning TeX" 
(and "organizing & memorizing") for granted, while 
you can use TeX without "learning it" -- ! -- and I 
believe that you won't want to learn TeX any more 
when you have started using it, along the LaTeX lines.

The rest of my posting tries to tell you something 
important about "TeX commands" and about TeX vs. 
MS Word:

I think the most salient features of TeX are these:

 1. high quality typesetting,

 2. easy creation of thousands of custom commands.

I am looking at the second feature now.  It is an
important reason why I don't want to use MS Word, 
even though its typesetting math has improved very 
much in recent years and even may be better than 
LaTeX in some respects today.
(Regarding MS Word macros as I have experienced them, 
 I consider TeX macros superior because they provide 
 powerful programming without clicking.)

The further rest of my posting rather is joking in order 
to demonstrate how bad your idea of "organizing all the 
commands" is, especially addressing mathematicians who 
(of course) prefer theory to practice:

If I understand the .log files from my current TeX 
installation correctly, I could tell it to create 

    475255 = 26^0 + 26^1 + 26^2 + 26^3 + 26^4

TeX commands (that do nothing), by starting with a 
command \zzz and in a recursion step append one letter
out of a, ..., z to the commands created so far, so 
the new commands range from \zzz to \zzzzzzz.  This 
should wake you up.  (Exercise:  "memorize" all these 



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